Sunday, December 01, 2013

Attack the Block


2011  *****

I'm sneaking this one out before writing my Review Bomb because I feel like it deserves a proper review.  The only other Horrorthonner who's written about it was Tami and she really had a bad time.  Sometime before H'thon 2012 I watched it and loved it, and I screened it as part of my sci-fi horror theme last year.  Since I now could fill an entire Horrorthon with movies that I've watched during Horrorthon and not reviewed, this was the only film from my Review Bomb last year that I thought worthy of re-presenting.  It wouldn't feel right to Review Bomb it again.

My comment in said Review Bomb was "Absolutely brilliant.  Don't listen to Tami."  but I repectfully acknowledge her oppressive extenuating circumstances -- I think this movie would suck to watch on an airplane.

Coming from the same writing and production stable as Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block centers on five teenage South London entry-level thugs who suddenly find themselves fighting beasts from outer space.  While the movie has a light tone, it isn't so much a comedy as its cousins, and the characters and action are stylish in a fun, low-rent way.

Since I really am going to try to make this quick, I will list a couple of my favorite features.

First is Moses, the quiet leader of the crew.  I totally loved the way he talked.  In the opening scene it's Guy Fawkes night and the gang is mugging a nurse named Samantha, but they are interrupted when a nearby car is struck by an object from the sky.  Moses climbs in a shattered window in search of booty and is attacked by a fierce, pale simian creature.  He stabs it but takes a nasty scratch to the face, and the thing tears off into a park.  He stands up slowly while his cronies say what the hell and crack jokes.  "Moses got shanked by Dobby the house elf!"  Moses straightens and says

I'm chasin' that down.
I'm killin' that.

Second is the gang itself, who are portrayed with such endearing frankness you're charmed even though you've seen them be intimidating bully fucks.  The movie doesn't play it down when they're crooks or jerks or ridiculous kids, so you can buy the friendship and loyalty.  I wasn't apt to yell at them when they did inadvisable things like get stoned in the middle of a beast siege, it just made sense that  those guys would do that.  

My favorite bit of good/evil razor's edge riding is when Moses tells Samantha (much later) that they wouldn't have mugged her if they'd known she also lived in the block.  She rebutts with "But it's okay if you didn't know me?" and Moses' second-in-command Pest chides her.  "Can't you see he's trying to apologize?  What's with you?"

A minute later Moses tells Pest to give Sam back the ring that they took from her, and Pest whines "Aw man, that's ours..."

Author Jonathan Lethem wrote a book about being bullied, and he referred to the "tilted logic," which always struck me as the worst part.  That exchange was like seeing it from the other side.  

Third and last is the Alien Gorilla Wolf Motherfuckers.  After the gang has their initial encounter with Dobby the house alien, they see several more meteors coming down around the building.  They head out for action but these beasts are different, as in they're way bigger.  They're shaggy, they have big claws, no eyes,  glowing blue teeth, and they are black.  BLACK.  "Too black to see."  They're like furry holes in reality, pure shapes with teeth.  I can only think of two other examples of this kind of monster, and one doesn't really count:

I once saw Disney's Beauty and the Beast as a work in progress, in which the level of finished animation varied throughout.  During most of the fight scene with the wolves, the Beast was drawn only as an outline with a face inside.  Look at that picture above and imagine him drawn that way, then say "groovy" about how huge and scary he'd look.

The other example is the awesome Monster from the Id in Forbidden Planet.  I should probably screen that next year.

Anyway, I urge everyone to check this one out.  I dig it, and I've been having a hard time not watching the whole thing right now as I grab screenshots.  I might have to own it.

What about you, Tami?  Think you can give it another shot?

1 comment:

JPX said...

Terrific review - in the past I could not get a sense of what this movie was about or the tone. I think you clarified this nicely and now I want to check it out. Striking a balance between horror and comedy is nearly impossible. Return of the Living Dead is an older example of the comedy/humor thing actually working.